Michele Bailes of Liberty Township, a full time American Sign Language instructor at Xavier University, asked her four classes if they would be interested in adopting one family at Christmas to give them a fresh start in a new year. The result was a unanimous 80-0 in favor. The students were responsible for finding a family - not by going to an agency, but by finding a family in their midst which needed help. They were encouraged to pray, talk, listen, ask questions and seek information from people they worked with, lived with and friends of friends. After ten days, fourteen different families were submitted. Each had its own devastating situation and was not seeking help from any other agency. The original plan was for all four classes to vote and adopt one family together to provide Christmas and offer some hope for a better future.
However, the plans changed. Each class adopted one family, thereby serving the four families below. The classes also bought toys for St. Joseph's Orphanage, as well.
• Father injured in a work accident and, while training for another job, was injured again and is unable to work. Mother was diagnosed with cancer. They and their 3 children live in a two bedroom trailer.
• A single grandmother fighting cancer is raising her teenage son and 3 grandchildren under the age of 3.
• The mother was diagnosed with cancer in May. They have a son in college, a son who suffered a stroke, and two pre-teens.
• Single father of five, recently laid off, fighting to keep his home out of foreclosure.
Each class brought all presents to their class and loaded them up in a car. A few students from each class delivered the presents to the waiting families. The students did not know the last names of the families, to ensure the families’ dignity and privacy. That was a lesson Bailes had to teach the students, explaining that serving others is not about recognition but about the act of serving.
Some students provided for adults, some for children, some gave food gift certificates and some included wrapping paper, tape and tags, so that parents could wrap the gifts for their children. The students wrapped the adult gifts, but felt the parents should have the joy of wrapping the children’s gifts themselves so they could anticipate the joy.